Concord streets dark due to copper thieves

February 13, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Volunteers armed with flashlights are taking to some trails in Concord trying to help people find their way. The lights are out along Port Chicago Highway near the North Concord BART station and once again, it's because of copper thieves. ABC7 News looks into what's being done.

When the sun goes down, it's pitch black on the trail paralleling Port Chicago Highway. Lights along the trail heading south of the North Concord BART station have been out for months after copper thieves accessed in ground boxes and ripped out the wiring.

"Anytime I have to come home after 6:30 at night, it always concerns me. As a matter of fact, I started carrying my 17-year-old's little pocket knife because from here to the center, where's there's a break going into the neighborhood, all the lights are out," said Concord resident Jesse McIntyre.

"At 4:30 in the morning when I'm riding my bicycle pretty quickly. If I hit somebody, we're both going to the hospital, so it'd be nice if the lights were working," said Concord resident Brian Wilson.

Last week, copper thieves struck along a stretch of Willow Pass Road, blacking out 10 street lights. In the last few years, Concord has spent $1 million to replace all of the stolen copper wiring.

The solution? In ground boxes will be encased in cement and rebar with a cover requiring special tools. We spoke with Concord Public Works director Justin Ezell.

Brinkley: "You tried putting boulders on, but they moved the boulders?"
Ezell: "Yes, we'd like to think boulders would work but unfortunately, they did not."

So Concord installed some temporary solar lights.

"We're installing warning signage so pedestrians know the lights are out as they're entering the paths," said Ezell.

"Every night we have two volunteers out here that are working from 4 - 8 p.m. during our prime commute hours," said Concord Police Lt. Darrell Graham.

They are all expensive and exhaustive remedies to shed some light on a growing problem.